The opening scene of Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom centers on a young male black child, gleefully racing through field in rural South Africa. No barriers lay in the boy’s path. Fast forward to Johannesburg in 1942 and the movie’s initial image, heralding a boundless geography and free movement, is not what’s about to face Nelson Mandela.
Mandela (Idris Elba), a riveting young attorney and canny counselor, is seen getting a dismissal for his client, a black woman accused of theft. Based on Mandela’s memoir, and directed by Justin Chadwick, Long Walk to Freedom introduces the subject as a man who professionally respects the powers that be, but who’s becoming increasingly frustrated with the white-supremacist government.
Realizing his effort to help his country’s blacks – they’re the majority population – will have a better chance of succeeding through pooled resources, Mandela joins the African National Congress (ANC). Participating in a bus boycott, he almost instantly becomes the party’s charismatic leader. “Education, hard work, pride” haven’t worked in the past, says Mandela. “Together we have the power.” It’s at that point the movie’s mantra becomes “This is how it starts,” a phrase used several times in the movie, and gracefully insinuates its archetype.
Sowing seeds and watching growth emerge from beneath the soil are the domain of Venus, via Taurus. Working together, partnering up and negotiating are the bailiwick of Venus, through Libra, and nothing expresses Mandela’s goal better than the Libran scales, seeking equality and balance in weight. Overall, Venus is associated with values – what we hold dear determines our behavior. And Mandela, who spent nearly three decades in prison serving a life sentence – during which time he was watched relentlessly, prohibiting from doing much more than endure, exist and survive – makes the case that seemingly doing nothing is active and potent decision-making in its own right.
Long Walk to Freedom is essentially a broad narrative of Mandela’s personal and political life which clearly prioritized his political activism. His first marriage to Evelyn (Terry Pheto) fails; Winnie (an impassioned Naomie Harris) becomes his second wife who steps into his shoes encouraging egalitarian efforts amidst governmental Apartheid, while raising her and Nelson’s two daughters and enduring a brutal 18-month prison sentence of her own. The film also demonstrates her becoming a more militant force in the movement, a stance that will have marital repercussions.
In the 1990s, when civil racial unrest has brought the government to its knees, the ruling body begins to court Mandela. He’s now a considerably older inmate and even more internationally revered public icon, who has been removed from the notorious jail at Robben Island, along with similarly long term ANC prisoners, to more civil captivity. Canny as ever, and using his more moderate Venusian approach, Mandela opts to work with the government – that Libran partnering, again – and is elected his country’s leader.
Although it’s easy to solely assign this movie the eruptive Uranian archetype of freedom, change and revolution, especially in the face of how Mandela all but rotted in prison during most of his confinement, Long Road to Freedom is about seeding the growth of ideas and slow but lasting changes in consciousness. That Mandela, in the final frames, is able to walk those same rural fields – this time, really unobstructed – is proof enough of the possibilities.
Astrology Film Rating: ♀♅ (Venus, Uranus)